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Santa Claus rides in a parade and walks kids through a relentless department-store Christmas display. Filmed in Pittsburgh.
This movie is part of the collection: Prelinger Archives
Producer: Williams (Clem) Films
Audio/Visual: Sd, C
Keywords: Christmas; Santa Claus; Consumerism
Creative Commons license: Public Domain
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Subject: They don't makem like this any more!
OK, this film is a half step up from home movies, and was made with a $1.98 cent budget, BUT, if you are a Pittsburgher of a certain age this film is a time capsule of your youth! Trains set up from Buhl Planetarium, Northside, Santa arriving from a tug boat on the Allegheny River with Zubic's Fleet in the background, Christmas Parades in McKeesport PA and Santa on a rocket at Great Southern Shopping Center, Bridgeville PA. The 7th floor Toy Land at Joseph Hornes Department store Downtown Pittsburgh, WITH the ROCKET Elevator that took you direct from the first floor to the seventh! Also, the animated shop windows set up to guide you to Santa and the Secret Santa Shop, where you could buy presents for family and not have them know! Yes, it was filmed in some ones living room, and yes, the Santa is a little creepy, but who didn't sit on the lap of some similar Santa growing up? With a total of 6 actors, Mom, Santa, 2 kids and 2 elves, oh yeah, don't forget the astronaut who runs the Rocket elevator! this film is in that category of "So Bad It's Good!" Faded film stock, would love to see it cleaned up, to give it that "restored" look. No, you will never get back the 12 minutes it takes you to watch the film, BUT, it 12 minutes in Pittsburgh PA that will never exist again!
J. Walter Puppybreath -
Subject: 'Santa: The Porn Loop'
Amazing (and slightly disturbing) stuff!
The Santa parade was shot in McKeesport, as you can see the Penn McKee Hotel along the route.
Subject: Nomination for the Worst Christmas Short Movie Ever
Rick Prelinger suggested this one, and I now concur... I can not find anything worse. Can you?
I thought the Jam Handy Rudolf was a contender, but this puts that one to shame.
Victor Von Psychotron -
Bizarre, yet watchable. You almost can't look away from it. I'd like to know where they filmed it.
I'm surprised no one commented on the narration and its hurriedly written bad poetry. Same kid wrote it obviously that wrote the script and did the photography. As for the narration. - "This man is a poet. how do we know it? It's his poetic feet that show it. They're 'Longfellows'."
Subject: Santa's Ranchstyle
Not only does Santa's eyes look like freshly placed pissholes in the snow out in back of the Marcus Bar, but I just know that livingroom of his will ultimately end up on Luriddigs.com one of these days and I can't wait to see what those critics say about it.
That parade was the sparsest and least attended parade I ever did see. Pittsburgh sure looked like a dreary depressing slum in those days.
Those trains were actually very neat. I would have mesmerized for hours over 'em as a kid. Definitely.
I did not find this film quite so creepy or scary as others have described it but admit that I DO (as one commenter suggested) like to watch tornadoes plowing through cities and neighborhoods watching the roofs and other junk flying around in the air...and similar things,like shots of the Hindenburg going up in flames. I don't see this film quite like that though.
Wonder if "Miss Helen" from Ding Dong School was playing the organ?
Subject: "So bad, it's good"
Bad, but not unwatchable. Its laughable awfulness redeems it. Definitely take a look at this for a true laugh out loud or two, none of which "Clem Williams" intended. Santa's new methods of transportation will make up for the time otherwise wasted!
Some of the reviews were lost and not recovered:
"Eeeeeeeek! Oh man I have no idea where Mr. Prelinger gets these things from. Cheap sets, God-awful music, Santa in a lovely recliner [...] and MORE MORE MORE! Can induce nightmares, so be warned!" (Spuzz)
"What do you get when you mix Dad, spiked eggnog and a Super 8? A visit to Santa!" (Cherokee Jack)
If I were that Santa, I might try to get that Mommy to sit on my lap to, ah, see what she wants for Christmas!
JD Kay -
Subject: Dolls For Girls...
In the film the announcer describes dolls for girls to,"wash, dress and spank."
Isn't that out-of order?
Subject: Nostalgic Fun
As hokey and cheesy as this little film might seem, this IS pretty much the way it was back then.
Subject: OMG !!!!!! Horrible is an Understatement!
This has to be without question one of the worst examples of filmmaking of all time. This film makes the Terror of Tiny Town and Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Gone With The Wind. The reason for the one star rating is based on the film being so bad you can't help but laugh. I wonder what four-year old wrote the script? Not a single person in this film can act and listening to the narration is agonizing to say the least. I should have stopped watching after the first five minutes, however I wanted to see how much worse it could get (which is does). The film is so pathetic that I actually feel sorry for not only the person who made it but the entire cast and crew. If any are still alive today, I hope they changed their names and disavowed any knowledge of this film. Oh, and the skipping elves who bow to Santa! I'm surprised he didn't make the two kids kiss his ring while they hold burning paper in their hands. Cappo de Tutta Santa.
Subject: Thus Ends the Life of a Great Jolly Man..
If I walked into Santa Claus's funeral, this is the music I would expect to hear.
Also, I love at the end, how he reminds the children the "true" meaning of Christmas after spending almost an entire day taunting them with toys. If I ever got the chance to go to drunken Santa's castle, I would expect to leave with at least something. I mean, give a kid a sucker. Instead, he mumbles something about Jesus, tries to quote a Bible verse, then throws them out. Jerk.
Subject: AUUUUUGH! Make it stop!
Wow....that was just...uh....weirder and worse than either Ed Wood's or Coleman Francis' worst films. Gawd, even "Manos the Hands of Fate" had a more believeable plot than this sorry piece of tripe. It looked like what happens at the Neverland Ranch at Christmastime, because that Santa was the creepiest (and probably drank too much eggnog or "Jesus Juice"). If your kids are bad duing the holidays, just show them this, (ala methods used in "A Clockwork Orange") and they will never ever be bad again.....Abysmal. Icky. Or as it was mentioned near the end, "Train wreck".
Wow, This film is crap! It's crappy crap which is crappy. This makes "Bride of the Monster" look like "Citizen Kane". It's not good.
Subject: Charmingly Awful
Awful, Moronic, Inane but Fun film. This film is being preserved by Rick Prelinger, But I'll forgive him.
Acting: I've seen better in "Captain Video" 1/5
Script: Again, I've seen better in "Captain Video" 1/5
Plot: Wait a minute, There's a plot?! 1/5
Historical Value: About the same as "Gigli" 1/5
Artistic Value: About the same as your average Mrs Miller album 1/5
Cultural Value: As non-existent as Jon Stewarts brain 1/5
Overall I give this 5/5. You simply MUST see this film!
Subject: The only good thing about this film
The reviews of this film are hysterical. It seems that we all watched this film and noone can figure out why. I also believe that this film could make children hate Santa. And if he is going to dress up elves like that and act creepy, maybe they should.
This film is not safe for children and small furry animals.
Subject: Another way to see it...
Man! I thought this was so bad when I first saw it on here a year ago...But, now it's a little better, I downloaded the Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett version and it's really funny...some things on it that you would've never heard on MST3k, but, still a better look at this plain version.
tracey pooh -
Subject: restored 23 previous reviews
sorry for the inconvenience...
Subject: OH MY!
Hmmm all I could think of when Santa ordered the elf out of the room before putting the kids on his lap was maybe this should be on the perversion for profit film. The elf's attire included.
I found this film to work better than sleeping pills, next time I have trouble getting to sleep I'm putting this on.
are the guys from MST3K when you need them?
Garsh, is there ever a wreck? That's fun! Oh,no wreck today.
Subject: See below
Agree 100% with Uniq's summary below.
It's too bad the archive couldn't archive the reviews eh?
And man, oh man, the fun we had about the possibility of destroying Clem Williams' fine name!
Cherokee Jack -
Subject: Where'd the reviews go?
There used to be a bunch here. Do they get reset once they hit 1,000? Oh well, another opportunity to review A Visit to Santa, a film so utterly awful that if it were remade today it would star Ben Affleck. The North Pole here looks suspiciously like your usual 1950s ranch-style house. Overall, this films reeks of a dad who's had a bit too much of the spiked eggnog and has woken the kids up at 3 a.m. because he has a great idea for his Super 8 camera.
History Repeating -
so when did santa get a helicopter? and how did these elves learn how to fly it? this film is a representation of time i will never get back. haha it's better than the santa crap they spew now
That was painful. Somehow intriguing but painful.
Subject: Price of film
I get the feeling that the price of cine film must have rocketed just about the time this film was made. Or then again perhaps the director had a reputation as a 'one take' wonder. Whaever the reason, the phrase 'lets go again' was never uttered in this production. But at least Big 'J' got a mention at the end.
Subject: God this is awful!!!!!!!!!!!!
It's not even cute retro kitchy (sp.), its just really bad. I realize that this isn't a film made with the Oscars in mind, but REALLY!!! Tell Santa to straighten his beard and tell the organist (heard throughout the film) to pack up his Wurlitzer and go home!!!
Subject: No water for Dicky
Did people really name their kids Dick and Clem?Did parents deprive their children of water at bed time?Did Santa really have obeisent prepubescent tighted elves?Did Santa really have a faux brick living room with pressboard furniture?Did Santa travel by every possible mode of transportation know to humankind?Did narrators in 1960 pronounce words all funny and stuff like /say-int-tah/ for Santa?You can find the answers to these any thousands of other scary 1960 realities if you squander twelve minutes of your life away on this film. Well worth it.
Subject: Did AppleGirl Get Beaten as a Child?!?!
While this film was just awful, with terrible sound, the thing that amazed me was AppleGirls critique of Christmas. Everyone has their own childhood experiences...but Santa as Big Brother? Going to see him making one nervous and sick? Terrible toys in the 50s and 60s?As an authority on toys and the creator of a world famous website on vintage toys, Ms. AppleGirls experience could be anything but common. The 50s and 60s had the best toys. Best engineered and most imaginative.As a kid, I totally loved the season...not just the toys. Going to see Santa was pure magic. As was going to Santa's Village, simple things like buying decorations and going to see the stores all decorated. The whole thing was magic for me, and everyone else I knew too.It is a shame that there are people that can't appreciate the simple charm of Christmas without raining on everyone's parade. I hope you don't have kids to ruin their experience!
1973 Dodge Polara -
Subject: The Atomic Age Meets Santa
Bad Acting,Bad Colour,Bad Special Effects,Bad Music.I Absolutley Love It !!!
Subject: Christmas looked like that in 1960
I was about the same age as those kids in 1960, and my memories of Christmas are just as hokey as this movie. Holiday displays in department stores were way cheesy and homemade-looking. Scary organ music happened a lot, too. Supper clubs always had people playing scary organ music while you dined. No wonder all the grown-ups needed a cocktail. The toys of that era were invented by grownups who didn't have a clue about what kids liked to play with. As a girl, about the only toys available were dolls and miniature kitchens. My dolls were huge and terrifying. Lionel came out with a "train for girls"which featured (what else?) a pink locomotive. Clowns and circuses were another thing that people assumed kids enjoyed, so we endured years of rude clowns in our faces at every parade, town celebration and birthday party, sending a whole generation of us into analysis, working through our clown-and-mime paranoia. In this movie, we see the bleak Pittsburgh streets, the sad little parade and the tired holiday decorations that got put away and reused by the department stores year after year... this seems completely accurate. Holidays did not account for 90% of retail sales in 1960. Christmas hadn't yet evolved into the polished, sparkling, hyped retail thing that it is today. Christmas was mainly a confusing thing. Parents would take the kids downtown to see the Christmas displays, thinking it was something kids enjoyed, but actually it was just boring, bizarre, and freezing cold. Like the kids in this movie, confused by the animated dolls in the store displays, we never really knew why we were supposed to be so fascinated. We were all pretty much afraid of Santa, he was everywhere. "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake..."Santa was a "big brother is watching you"entity in the atomic age. I was never curious about how he got around, I accepted and liked the reindeer theory. But for some reason the grown-ups of the era always felt compelled to invent additional various transportation scenarios. We see this in the movie: Santa flies on a rocket, helicopter, car with fins, jet-powered boats, whatever. More confusion. Most kids didn't want to meet Santa face-to-face. Writing those letters was more than enough. Like the kids in this movie, we REALLY didn't want to sit on his lap. The "we're going to see Santa"excursion filled us with dread and nervousness for days beforehand, much like going in for a salary review. And memorizing what we wanted to tell Santa, who invented this torture? The grown-ups tried. They really did. This movie is rather a documentary of their efforts at explaining Christmas in 1960. But for most kids my age, Christmas didn't become great until the toy companies got wise and invented Barbie, GI Joe, Hot Wheels, and the Creepy-Crawler set.-
Film Fan -
Subject: Yuletide Cheese
First some perspective...Ever buy one of those videos at Christmastime that boasts "Beautiful Yuletide Scenes"and "Festive Christmas Music"only to find the production values were slightly better than a Powerpoint presentation--with a cheap synthesizer soundtrack? I have several of those things. One of my "Yuletide Fireplace"DVDs is nothing more than a camera pointed at a guy's fireplace with a public domain soundtrack. But...the BOX it came in is beautiful and loaded with advertisements for the producer's other titles!Such was probably the case for "A Visit to Santa,"distributed by Clem Williams Films, a film RENTAL company that provided 16mm Hollywood entertainment films to school groups (and others) just like Swank or Modern Sound Pictures does today.* The BOX this film came in was probably one big advertisement for the latest titles in Clem's inventory.Although "A Visit to Santa"is miserable to sit through, put in its proper context, it's a cute piece of 60's Holiday kitsch. Who knows? You may be watching Clem and his kids dressed as Santa and his helpers! I'm sure his young kids were very proud to have their "movie"distributed around the country...and now on the internet! Clem was probably happy (albeit in a cheap, cheap way) to advertise his company to the Christmas market.As a distributor, I'm sure Mr. Williams knew films very, very well. His 1969-70 catalog was nearly 200 pages! Houghton College references his "Sophisticated Films Movie Guide"in their film review policy. Not a bad source.So, throw another fruitcake on the fire and enjoy "A Visit to Santa!"*Thanks to Phil Johnson at Phil's Vintage Movie Films and Collectibles for the info. (http://8mm16mmfilmscollectibles.com)
Subject: Strange and sinister Santa movie
Sure to become a cult classic, A Visit To Santa is the most disturbing children's film I've ever seen. Maybe I don't understand the business of educational filmmaking circa 1963, but even I know that no professional maker of "magnificent award winning films"would stamp his name on unprofessional garbage like this, especially if he wants to sell his services as a filmmaker to industrial / corporate sponsors.This is way below average amateur filmmaking at best. Since the film makes sure to mention that Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, one can deduce that it was commissioned by a church or church-related organization that had only10 to spend on the production. Or maybe the producer offered to make this movie for free, and was too cheap to pay for a decent production out of his own pocket. How this film came to be will probably remain a mystery forever.A Visit To Santa is indeed a strange and sinister film, and the nonexistent budget is least of its problems. Santa looks like a grubby, alcoholic derelict plucked from a five-and-dime store Christmas display. The narrator sounds like Mister Rogers - if Mister Rogers had been a suicidal depressive pining for the happy childhood he never had.The set is an unbelievably tacky and sleazy 1950's ranch house living room, and as another reviewer noted, does look the set of a bad, low-rent porno film. One has to wonder if hardcore stag films were indeed shot on the same set. The soundrack of ineptly improvised organ music played on a cheap and terrible sounding organ is practically nauseating.The best parts of the movie are the insertions of Christmas parade stock footage and the toy store scenes, which feature some evil looking dolls. The narrator even says that little girls would have fun spanking them! I also liked the toy trains.All criticisms aside, I still have to give this film a five-star rating for its sheer mind-blowing creepiness and sinister tone. I can't see any child wanting to visit Santa after watching this film. In fact, it would probably inspire kids to run away from Santa, screaming in terror. Hmmmm... you think this movie could be the work of Christian zealots pissed off about the commercialization of Christmas? :o)- Eric Petersen
Subject: real life ..an opinion
I have read all of the 19 reviews of this film and there is no mention of the reality of the advertising film production business world. During the life of a typical company , they will produce for their clients, a range of films, from the cheaply made trashy type( such s this film)to the hugely expensive, celebrity endorsed epics for tobacco and alcohol. Then again, they will make magnificent award winning films advocating health measures, conservation and other praise worthy eendeavours. We should pause before damning a company or individual on the basis of only one film. Incidentally, A.Clement Williams died on 18th june 2001 at the age of 88 , highly respected by his community
Ryan Hennessy -
Subject: A terrifying vision of our recent past
A Visit To Santa was made entirely from your childhood nightmares. It is absolutely garish and horrifying. Every single nightmarish image and memory from your upbringing is in this film. Animatronic dolls with halos move robotically and pretend to manufacture their own offspring. A little elf boy scampers around in a mini-skirt. A low-rent department store Santa welcomes you into his funished basement. Elevators are disguised as "rocket ships."Santa flys a helicopter. A painting is hovered over and meant as an actual representation of the North Pole. The gaudy organ music provides a soundtrack. And when Santa Claus finally references Jesus Christ, your happy, innocent memories are gone forever.Thanks a lot.
Subject: This movie burns my eyes
I don't know how, why, or under what circumstances this movie was made, but it causes me physical pain. The "Magic Helicopter,"the awful friggin'music, the bizarre and innappropriate (hard to say what's not appropriate for this piece of s***) use of camera movement on a still image, and last but not least, SANTA HIMSELF reminding children that Xmas is about JESUS. I'm about to make my 4th attempt at watching the whole thing through, start to finish. If a film student DID shoot this thing, he/she went to a community college. A bad one. In hell.Oooooof.
Robert Norman -
Subject: Truly Chilling
This creepy, chilling film has the unsettling look and sound of a bad porno film. Get ready to laugh or scream (or both) when the little Elf skips his way into the childrenÃÂs bedroom to whisk them away to Santas Happy Land. Who knew Santa lived in a 1950 ranch home?
Subject: The perfect example of
....... just watch it. Preferably with friends and beer. Crap, yet perfectly brilliant.
Access Angel -
Why? I just kept watching hoping to figure out the purpose for making this movie....I could discern none so think it must have been a very expensive hobby. This reminds me of a visit to Santa at the holiday wonderland at a local department store in the late 60's and early 70's. I'd love to know more details on when and specifically where this movie was made.Another plus: the other reviews gave me a hearty laugh!
Subject: This movie makes me want to die
I was unaware that Mr. Rodgers had a depressed cousin until I saw this film. The narrator is as exciting as a trip to an Enya concert. Santa at his most boring.
The Sound Hound -
Subject: Holy Crap
If the Grinch really wanted to ruin Christmas, his plan should have been showing this film to Whoville. I sure hope Clem Williams is the name of someone the real filmmaker hated. How anyone could sign off on this and put their name on it is disturbing. The awful coloring, bad plot, the fact Santa's "beard"doesn't move when he talks, and the evasion of actually shooting half the footage used all must have been intended to make the soundtrack seem better than it really is, because anything looks good next to this cinematic catastrophe. No train wreck? The whole thing is a train wreck! If you're looking for quality, this gets negative 5 stars. If you're the type who likes to watch car wrecks, tornados, and other disasters, then this gets 5 stars. I'll give it the closest to the average of those two scores I can give.
Subject: A frightening vision of hell
I've determined that this is not really a film about Santa by an incompetent film student. Rather, it's someone's vision of a hell masquerading as such a film.Everything about this film is just hellish. The two kids vacillate between wild-eyed and bored to death, but never anything in between. Santa is a boozy old drunk who lives in an apartment that looks less promising than a refrigerator box, and Santa's "toyshop"is clearly a poorly done department store display. Santa's elves (you never see more than 2) are just wrong. The soundtrack was obviously done on the local retirement home's organ. A great deal of the footage is lifted from what looks like home videos of parades. And the film print is tinted in such a way to make you think you really are descending into hell, a mess of browns and oranges. Then in the infamous train scene, the "carnival song"begins -- trust me, you know what song I'm talking about. I half-suspect the "clem williams"supposedly responsible for this abomination cameos as the "spaceship operator"(read: elevator button presser). The guy who has this short cameo was star trek dorky before there even WAS a star trek.All that was missing from this film was a band of martians that would have attacked santa in space, necessitating santa to lay down the law and introduce martians to booze so they too can become bleary-eyed and hopeless, resignees to hell. Thankfully however, the15 budget of this film didn't allow for it.
Subject: And the point is?
I'm guessing this was some aspiring film student's attempt? In addition to everyone else's comments, what's up with the gender stereotypes? Ann likes dolls; Dick likes trains. And why was the narrator speaking on behalf of these very young children, using words like "certainly"? I think the Village was some display in a shopping mall.
Artemia Salina -
Subject: Santa Porn?
My favorite quote from this monstrosity comes from Santa Claus, "Always remember children, that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, HUNDREDS of years ago."Due to the recent Space Shuttle disaster I found the "special effects"used in the scene depicting Santa's spaceship ride to be particularly uncomfortable, until I realized that it was just stock footage of a fireworks display.All in all, this is a wholely wretched film, well worth the download, even if only for its lovely musical score. I found it to be both technically and historically inane. Three thumbs up!
Subject: Santa's Magical Suburban Tract Home
I wish someone had shown me this cinematic lump of coal when I was a kid; I would have stopped believing in Santa a lot sooner. For that matter, I probably would have stopped believing in God about two minutes into the interminable twelve minute running time. It's like watching paint... fade. * for bad acting* for the horrid screenplay* for crimes against set dressing* for the JUST NOT RIGHT elf costumes* for boring Xmas parade footage Hey, that adds up to *****!
Subject: Filthy lies
A nice example for the santaganda telling poor little children filthy lies that presents come from the north pole.I think we should tell them the truth. The truth, that presents do not come from Santa, but the "Christkind"insteadt.However the music is great.
Subject: Hmmm let's see
Either the film-maker is trying to make his first attempt at an epic film or the Eggnog is overly spiked. It's trash! Santa's "living room"is definitly screaming for drapes. There's nothing wrong with making "home movies"of the sights and sounds of the holidays but man, don't make a home movie like this one public :(
"Every doll must have a head and have a body..."Dick and Ann don't really perk up until it's time to leave. I don't blame them.I have to commend the makers for their blatant use of "found"art and design about town.
Subject: Dear God!
What the holy hell is THIS crap? Where's MST3K when you need them? If ever a movie was destined for Mike and the Bots, this is it. Quickly stops being fun and starts being frightening, not too unlike "Coily."WHY was this film MADE? "Santa, do these trains ever wreck? Oh, they DO? GARSH, that's fun... Aw, no wrecks today."